eSports is an area that has absolutely exploded in the past few years. The latest trend is selling out concert venues and stadiums, and colleges of all sizes have started to pick up eSports as a varsity sport offering. Not to mention the TV deals and serious money that those that are going professional are pulling down.
That movement has trickled down to the high school level in some states, and Michigan is one of the latest states that are considering adding eSports as an option for high school kids, according to a recent article by MLive.
From a logistics standpoint, MHSAA executive director Mark Uyl shares that the cost to get things up an running for school is minimal, as there are vendors out there ready and willing to supply the hardware and software needed. It would provide a chance to diversify, as it would appeal to a potentially different demographic who aren't otherwise involved in the typical MHSAA sport offerings.
You also have to consider that since games are played virtually, there are no travel costs, and in today's current climate where cuts are being made everywhere, that certainly has a a specific appeal.
In order for the MHSAA to really consider adding a sport, at least 64 schools must offer the activity and sponsor it, and girls wrestling and boys volleyball were other sport options brought to the discussion table.
As for what games would be played, Uyl did share that they would be of the "non-violent" variety. Some of the most popular games that kids play online, and the most popular current eSports options are in things like Fortnite and Counterstrike, which I can't picture falling under the non-violent umbrella.
Uyl notes they are "a long way from jumping into eSports, but it is certainly something that deserves more conversation, more study, more dialogue, and more feedback from our schools."
While I can certainly see the value of this is some of the bigger schools, it's hard to get behind at the small school level where participation is already waning and there is a fine line before you start treading into territory where there are too many options and your student-athlete base is being spread thin across too many options.